WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs launched its new VA Video Connect application last week, connecting veterans with their health care team from anywhere, using encryption to ensure a secure and private session. The app makes VA health care more convenient and reduces travel times for veterans, especially those in very rural areas with limited access to VA health care facilities. It also allows health care access from any mobile or web-based device.
EAST LANSING, Mich. – Researchers at Michigan State University have developed a mobile app and hardware for smartphones to measure blood pressure. The approach uses two sensors, with the sensor unit and other circuitry housed in a case attached to the back of the phone. Users turn on the app and press their fingertip against the sensor unit. With their finger on the unit, they hold their phone at heart level and watch their smartphone screen to ensure they’re applying the correct amount of finger pressure. “This device could be a game-changer,” said Ramakrishna Mukkamala, senior author of research on the technology published in Science Translational Medicine. “This invention gives patients a convenient option, and keeping a log of daily measurements would produce an accurate average, discounting an occasional measurement anomaly.”
BALTIMORE, Md. – A smartphone app might help reduce the number of hospital readmissions in patients who have been treated for a heart attack, according to an abstract presented at the American College of Cardiology’s Cardiovascular Summit last month.
“We have found there are many gaps in care in patients recovering from a heart attack,” said Dr. William Yang, lead author of the paper, in a statement. “We wanted to engage patients in their own care, and help them transition from the hospital to home using existing technology.”
The Corrie app is designed to help patients navigate the hospital discharge process by educating them about heart disease. It syncs with the Apple Watch to monitor heart rate and keep track of how much individuals are walking. The app also helps keep track of medications, follow-up appointments and lifestyle changes needed after a heart attack.
“This app helps patients keep track of all their medications, including how much to take and at what time,” Yang said. “They may suddenly have new doctors and more medical visits, including cardiac rehab, and the app helps them track and centralize all those appointments.”
Researchers at Johns Hopkins Hospital and Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center studied 60 patients hospitalized with a heart attack who agreed to use the app in the hospital and for 30 days after discharge. The hospital purchased phones to loan to patients who did not have iPhones as part of a pilot program to maximize patient reach, and all participants were loaned an Apple Watch.
Of the 60 participants, 3% were readmitted for any reason within 30 days, compared with 19% of all heart attack patients at Johns Hopkins. Because the hospital does not receive Medicare reimbursement for patients readmitted within 30 days, this difference in readmission rates represents a cost savings of $262,500 in readmission penalties, Yang said.
The researchers are continuing to use patient feedback to refine the app to make it easier to use and more helpful for patients recovering from a heart attack. They are also actively working to expand access to Corrie.
“We think this is a readily scalable program,” Yang said.
PURCHASE, N.Y. – Westmed Medical Group in October implemented a health technology platform that provides a single mobile app to support all of its informational, clinical and financial self-service tools.
The Universe mHealth App Platform is a client-branded mobile app platform designed specifically for health care organizations.
“With many large health organizations already accumulating multiple mobile apps to provide self-service tools to their patients, there’s an excellent opportunity to consolidate these apps into a single app, greatly improving the patient experience,” said John Deutsch, founder of Universe mHealth, who believes the health care industry has lagged in its adoption of mobile app technology because of regulations and lack of innovation.
Westmed Medical Group’s integrated platform allows a patient to enter their portal and see their health history, medications, allergies and lab results. The platform also allows the patient to communicate with their physician, request prescription refills, make an appointment or pay a bill.
Additionally, the platform features a mobile app that patients can download onto their smartphone—the most appealing piece of the platform to patients, said Merin Joseph, chief information officer of Westmed Medical Group.
For health organizations, the platform allows them to add their own custom features to the platform, including a hospital campus wayfinder, remote patient monitoring, video consultations and intake forms.
The platform is popular with patients who use it, but it’s taking some time to get new users on board so Westmed Medical Group has a marketing campaign in place to get more people signed on.
“With this platform patients are getting a tool they can use,” said Joseph. “They want to be informed about their health and these tools are helping them achieve that.”
SAN FRANCISCO – Wildflower Health has teamed up with the Wyoming Department of Health to release a new mobile health app that connects families to health resources on their smartphone. The Family Health mobile app allows families to track their health and growth. “The Family Health app provides a channel for Wyoming residents to be involved and engaged in their health care,” said Dr. James Bush, medical director for the Wyoming Department of Health, that state’s Medicaid program, in a statement. “Resources available from our department are found throughout the app, just by simply entering in the resident’s zip code, offering digital support to Wyoming families.” Features of the app include: profiles for everyone in the family with information about health milestones for men and women, adults and children; connections with local resources, such as the Wyoming Quit Tobacco Program or Wyoming Cancer Resource Services; tools like Vaccination Tracker, Weight Tracker and Height Tracker; and customized tools for an expectant mother and newborns like Kick Counter, Growth Tracker, Diaper Tracker and Feeding Tracker.
SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has permitted marketing of the Viz.AI contact app, a type of clinical decision support software designed to analyze computed tomography (CT) results that could notify providers of a potential stroke in their patients.
“The Viz.ai LVO Stroke Platform is the first example of applied artificial intelligence software that seeks to augment the diagnostic and treatment pathway of critically unwell stroke patients,” said Dr. Chris Mansi, CEO of Viz.ai, in a statement. “We are thrilled to bring artificial intelligence to health care in a way that works alongside physicians and helps get the right patient to the right doctor at the right time.”
The Viz.AI Contact application is a computer-aided triage software that uses an artificial intelligence algorithm to analyze images for indicators associated with a stroke. The FDA is currently creating a regulatory framework for these products that encourages developers to create, adapt and expand the functionalities of their software to aid providers in diagnosing and treating diseases and conditions.
The Viz.AI Contact app is designed to analyze CT images of the brain and send a text notification to a neurovascular specialist if a suspected large vessel blockage has been identified. The algorithm will automatically notify the specialist during the same time the first-line provider is conducting a standard review of the images, potentially involving the specialist sooner than the usual standard of care, in which patients wait for a radiologist to review CT images and notify a neurovascular specialist. The notification can be sent to a mobile device, such as a smart phone or tablet, but the specialist still needs to review the images on a clinical workstation.
The app was reviewed through the FDA’s De Novo premarket review pathway, a regulatory pathway for some new types of medical devices that are low to moderate risk and have no legally marketed predicate device to base a determination of substantial equivalence. This action also creates a new regulatory classification, which means that subsequent computer-aided triage software devices with the same medical imaging intended use may go through the FDA’s premarket notification process, whereby devices can obtain marketing authorization by demonstrating substantial equivalence to a predicate device.
DALLAS – Universe mHealth has launched a client-branded advanced mobile app platform for health care organizations to support all of their informational, clinical and financial self-service tools.
“With many large health organizations already accumulating multiple mobile apps in order to provide self-service tools to their patients, there’s an excellent opportunity to consolidate these apps into a single app, greatly improving the patient experience,” said John Deutsch, founder of Universe mHealth, in a statement.
The Universe mHealth App Platform comes with a series of pre-built features that health organizations may select from, including: health summaries; prescription refills; secure messaging with providers; lab results; and bill pay.
Health care organizations can also add custom features, including remote patient monitoring; video consultations; hospital campus wayfinding; web check-in; and intake forms.
“The combination of the latest mobile app technology, an architecture developed specifically for health care and a library of pre-built features translates to dramatically lower costs and shorter development time for our customers,” said Deutsch.
MADISON, Wis. – A team of researchers from the Wisconsin Institute of Surgical Outcomes Research at the University of Wisconsin have developed a smartphone app that enables patients to remotely send images of their surgical wounds for monitoring by nurses.
The WoundCare app was developed to aid in earlier detection of surgical site infections and reduced hospital readmissions.
“Many SSI develop in the post-discharge period and are inadequately recognized by patients,” wrote Dr. Rebecca Gunter, lead author of a study on the development of the app that was published recently in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.
For the study, researchers enrolled 40 vascular surgery patients during their inpatient stay. They were trained to use the WoundCare app, which allowed them to transmit digital images of their surgical wound and answer a survey regarding their recovery. Following hospital discharge, participants completed the app daily for two weeks, and providers on the inpatient team reviewed submissions daily and contacted patients for concerning findings.
The research team detected seven wound complications with one false negative. Participant and provider satisfaction was universally high, according to the study results.
“Patients and their caregivers are willing to participate in a mobile health program aimed at remote monitoring of postoperative recovery, and they are able to complete it with a high level of fidelity and satisfaction,” wrote Gunter. “Preliminary results indicate the ability to detect and intervene on wound complications.”
BRISBANE, Australia – ResApp Health Limited, a digital health company developing smartphone applications for the diagnosis and management of respiratory disease, has enrolled the first patient in its Smartcough-C-2 study in the United States. The Smartcough-C-2 study is a prospective, multi-site, double blind study to evaluate the efficacy of the company’s ResAppDx app for the diagnosis of childhood respiratory diseases from cough sounds. “We are excited to begin the study and take this important next step toward the commercialization of ResAppDx in the United States,” said Tony Keating, CEO and managing director of ResApp Health, in a statement. “The refined study protocol, developed in close collaboration with the principal investigators at the recruiting sites, includes major improvements over our previous study in the United States and we look forward to obtaining results which are a true representation of ResAppDx’s performance in mid 2018.” The company plans to enroll up to 1,667 patients aged 29 days to 12 years of age who present to one of the three participating sites in the United States with signs or symptoms of respiratory disease. The study’s co-primary endpoints are positive and negative percent agreement with clinical diagnosis for pneumonia, lower respiratory tract disease, viral lower respiratory tract infection, bronchiolitis, asthma/reactive airways disease, upper respiratory tract disease and croup.
SAN FRANCISCO, – Zipongo has raised more than $50 million to expand its technology platform to use food as a first-line therapy in treating chronic disease through its new FoodScripts digital program. The company initially focused on partnering with corporate wellness plans with several apps designed to change people’s behavior around nutrition, and will now expand to hospitals and health plans to cover people with hypertension, diabetes, obesity and other chronic conditions. “Modern clinical guidelines for treating high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity and diabetes call on physicians to prescribe dietary improvements as either the first line of defense or a key companion therapy in treating these chronic conditions,” said Dr. Jason Langheier, CEO and founder of Zipongo, in a statement. “There is evidence food as medicine in a program like our FoodScripts for Metabolic Syndrome not only helps mitigate chronic disease but also provides substantial cost savings to those who pay for health care—patients, employers, insurers and the government.” The FoodScripts program provides nutrition programs that adhere to people’s dietary needs.